Tasha Tudor - A Portrait

Tasha Tudor's name is well known among the Corgi community for her delightful art work which often involves Corgis. Tasha Tudor's work appears to be particularly popular in Japan. Thus, in 2008 a book, Tasha and Her Corgis, has been published in Japanese only. Its 104 pages are full of photos of Tasha's Corgis and her drawings.

Tasha Tudor was born in Boston in 1915. Her father was a noted yacht designer whilst her mother was an accomplished portrait painter. When Tasha was 9 years old her parents divorced and she was sent to Connecticut to live with friends where she was plunged into a rather unconventional atmosphere, her new "aunt" being far too busy writing to worry about cooking and the like. But Tasha found the free-and-easy lifestyle exhilarating. She developed a passionate love for the rural life and nature in general. From an early age she drew and there was little doubt in Tasha's mind that her future lay in art.

In 1938 Tasha married Thomas Leigthon McCready, Jr. First they lived at her mother's Connecticut home. Seven years later the couple moved to New Hampshire to an old rather derelict farmhouse from the 1790s, without central heat, running water or electricity. However, bringing up four children in a rural environment came naturally to Tasha Tudor. Animals surrounded her and the existence was almost self-sufficient. She spun and wove, then made all the family's clothes, she made her own butter, grew her own food and spent hours devoting time to her children yet still found time to draw and paint. She never had a studio and always used the kitchen, whenever she felt she wanted to draw.

Her first book was published in 1938, but it was not until some twenty years later that her love affair with Corgis began.

In 1957 the family spent a year in England living in Sussex, and her young son Tom was being tutored by a gentleman who owned a Pembroke Welsh Corgi who captured the schoolboy's heart. Young Tom informed his mother that he was going to save up to buy a Corgi, an announcement which was not regarded at all seriously by his mother. However, Tom cycled into Midhurst one day to pick up a kennel paper and found an advertisement for Corgi puppies, placed by a Reverend Mr. Jones who actually lived in Pembrokeshire. Tom wrote to Mr. Jones who was obviously touched by the request and who assured him he would send him a suitable puppy.

The rest of the family returned to America and Tom stayed on at school for another year. His mother had rather forgotten the Corgi incident, but one day she heard from Tom that Mr. Jones had a puppy for him. The puppy was flown to the States where he joined Tasha's household and the minute she saw him, she was done for! Officially he was named Browns, but that swiftly changed to Mr. B. He started Tasha's passion for Corgis.

Mr. B., Tasha's first Corgi

When Tom returned home Mr B. only had eyes for Tasha who was by now totally entranced by the breed and Mr B. was soon joined by a bitch puppy that was always known for the nineteen years as "Pups". In due course Pups and Mr B. started a family and Tasha Tudor has never been without a handful of Corgis since.

Mr. B. and Pups' first litter: Gwen, Studley, Owen and Megan

Inevitably it was only a matter of time before Corgis began to feature in Tasha Tudor's work; sometimes as the focal point of an illustration, often as a detail, but the Tudor Corgis are quite ubiquitous! Indeed, they have been the subject of three entire books: Corgiville Fair (1971), The Great Corgiville Kidnapping (1997) and Corgiville Christmas (2002).

A lifelong love of dolls was intensified when Tasha established a "doll family" to entertain her children. Many were made by her, crafted from wood, dressed in hand-made clothes from home-spun material. The doll family required entertainment, so Tasha built a marionette theatre and populated it with characters of her own making. Later an eight-strong Corgi orchestra was produced and a friend of Tasha's supplied miniature hand-made instruments for the musicians.

Tasha also owned several dollhouses. One was so large and impressive that it became a tourist attraction. There is also a book about it: Tasha Tudor's Dollhouse. A Lifetime in Miniature. by Harry Davies.

More pictures of the dollhouse can be viewed here

After the death of her husband in 1964 Tasha Tudor realized her dream of nearly thirty years earlier - to live in Vermont - and in 1971 she moved to a house built by hand by her son Seth with assistance from his mother. Modelled on the home of a friend, the house was virtually copied, constructed of wood and built without any assistance from power tools.

Taha Tudor's "new old house" in Vermont

Tasha Tudor doesn't mind if she is regarded as slightly eccentric because of her old-fashioned lifestyle. She admits living in another century and being at least 100 years behind the times. She prefers to wear clothes from the 19th century and besides drawing and painting spends her days at her loom or tending her beautiful garden which also supplies the vegetables and fruit. She bakes her own bread and breeds poultry, goats and Corgis.

As well as the family of Corgis, Tasha Tudor keeps a huge Irish Wolfhound (who has also appeared in illustrations) and cats.

Tasha Tudor seems to have discovered true happiness. In her own words, she is rather anti-social. She doesn't want to go anywhere and prefers to stay at home. She thinks it is wonderful to be an artist because "as an artist you can be as crazy as you like or as immoral as you wish and no-one thinks anything of it ... ".

Tasha Tudor is a very productive artist. Since her first book was published she has written and/or illustrated almost one hundred books and painted hundreds of aquarelles.

Tasha Tudor has eleven grandsons and a grand-daughter.

Tasha Tudor died on 18 June 2008 in her home in Marlboro, Vermont, at the age of almost 93 years.

Portrait mainly based on an interview published in Dogs Monthly July 1987.

Books written and/or illustrated by or about Tasha Tudor are available from www.amazon.com
A wide range of Tasha Tudor's art work can be found on www.cellardoorbooks.com